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  Sarah Sanders Briefs Reporters at the White House  CSPAN  September 13, 2017 4:06pm-4:34pm EDT

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dozens and dozens of grassroots organizations and trade unions representing the working people of this country. they know as we know that this struggle will ultimately not be won here on capitol hill but through the grassroots activism of millions of americans who are standing up and fighting back, who are becoming more engaged politically, and when we all stand together, we're going to be able to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and wall street and everybody else. and to do what we should have done decades ago and finally guarantee health care to all americans as a right. thank you very much.
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white house sprekts sarah sanders was asked about senator sanders' single payer insurance plan during today's white house briefing. she was also asked about president trump's recent law making deals and the future of potential tax reform deals. this is a half hour. >> good afternoon. i want to start off by reiterating the messages that fema administrator brock long and the president's homeland security and counterer terrorism officer made this morning regarding the ongoing relief efforts in the wakes of hurricanes irma and harvey. life sustaining operations are still under way and we encourage everyone in the designated areas in florida, puerto rico and the
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u.s. virgin islands to register online at disaster assistance.gov. that's the quickest way to register for federal assistance. as i said yesterday, the president was pleased that members on all sides of the aisle came together last week under his leadership to deliver critical relief to those effected by the storms and he has continued that spirit of bipartisanship and unity this week. last night he hosted republican and democrat senators to discuss advancing the administration's legislation priorities particularly the importance of delivering tax cuts and reform for the middle class. today in addition to important meetings with republican and democrat house members and senator tim scott, the president will also host senator schumer and congresswoman pelosi this evening for a bipartisan discussion on the upcoming legislative agenda with a focus on tax reform. historic tax reform is one of the most significant ways that we will jump start our economy,
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creating jobs and raising wages for all americans. the president and his team will continue to engage with all members of congress who are willing to work with us to deliver this critical relief for the american people. finally, on a slightly lighter note, i'd like to announce that frank from falls church, virginia, whose letter i read last month offering his services to mow the white house lawn will be here on friday. he'll work with the grounds keeping crew at the white house and will help cut the grass in the rose garden. the president is committed to keeping the american dream alive for kids like frank and we're all looking forward to having him here. >> can you give us a readout of the meeting that the president had with senator scott this morning? >> sure. this was a very productive meeting that the president and the senator both wanted to have something to discuss potential solutions moving forward to bring the country together, a focus on unity.
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also talking and touching on some of the priorities for the legislative agenda moving into the fall. >> did senator scott express his displeasure at all with the president's initial reaction to charlottesville? >> not at all. they talked about it pretty in-depth but the focus was primarily on solutions moving forward and that was what both people came to the meeting wanting to discuss is what we can do to bring people together, not talk about divisions within the country. >> second question, following the meeting that he had with the president last night, joe manson said in his perfect world, you get 30 democratic senators and 30 republican senators agreeing on a plan for tax reform. does the president believe he can get 30 democratic senators and still stick to his principals for tax reform? >> i think america hopes he can. for the sake of most americans the goal is i would actually set the sights much higher in that you have every member of the senate come together to help pass massive tax cuts and bring tax reform to this country.
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>> two questions, if i can. the president's dinner tonight with schumer and pelosi. they seem to be getting close but in the past the president has called chuck a clown and nancy a loser. how does that work? what changed? >> it's less about him needing him but the president wanting to work with them and wanting to move this country forward. as we've said many times before, we've got a very ambitious legislative agenda and the president wants to work with anybody that wants to move america forward and if they're willing to do that and sit down and have that conversation on both tax cuts, tax reform, responsible immigration reform then the president certainly welcomes those conversations. >> does he view them as equal allies on the hill for getting things done on par with mcconnell and ryan? >> the president is a republican and certainly i think ideologically that's a much cleaner matchup. if these people and these individuals whether they're
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democrats or republicans want to come together to push the president's agenda and the agenda that clearly the american people want to see or they wouldn't have elected donald trump, then we're certainly happy to have that conversation and move that ball forward. >> i know the president came out for graham cassidy today but a lot of people believe that may not come to pass. senator alexander has introduced more incremental bill stabilize the insurance markets. could the president support a bill like that or does it have to be more of a full scale repeal? and secondly, what does the president make of democrats' efforts on single payer? >> i think that the president as well as the majority of the country knows that the single payer system is a horrible idea. i can't think of anything worse than having government be more involved in your health care instead of less involved. the president's focused on looking at ways where government gets out of the way, people have more control over their own
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health care and looking at ways to again fully repeal and replace would certainly be a priority but we want to move the system forward and make sure that we're in a place that's actually sustainable and we have a health care system that works, that people who are under that health care system actually have a say in. >> but could he sign something that's not a full scale repeal, obviously i'm not just saying single payer but something along -- >> we have the see the specific pieces of legislation before we'll weigh in on a hypothetical bill. matt? >> two questions. first is -- going to be attending that dinner tonight? >> i believe the vice president's hosting another dinner at his residence with other members of congress. we'll make sure we get those more details to you on that later today. >> i wanted to follow up on some statements you made yesterday about james comey. some of of his conduct could have been illegal. what specifically were you referring to there? the one thing you pointed out
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was the memos but those didn't contain any classified materials. >> they were created on an fbi computer while he was the director. he claims they were private property but they clearly followed the protocol of an official fbi document leaking fbi memos on a sensitive case regardless of classification violates federal laws including the privacy act, standard fbi employment agreement and nondisclosure agreement all personnel must sign. that's clean and clear that that would be a violation. >> so what do you want to see happen? >> that's not up to me to decide. i'm certainly not an attorney, but i think that the facts of the case are very clear. >> just following up on that a bit, so you're not saying that the justice department should look into this but you do believe that comey did -- that his act of leaking those memos was illegal? >> the department of justice has to look into any allegations of
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whether or not something illegal or not. that's not up to me to decide. what i've said and what i'm talking about are facts. james comey leaking of information, questionable statements under oath, politicizing an investigation, those are real reasons for why he was fired and the president's decision was 100% right which we've said multiple times over and over and, in fact, i think the more and more we learn the more and more that's been vindicated. >> just on another topic. do you have any details on whether the president will be going tomorrow in florida? anything, any details on that trip? >> he will be in the naples and ft. myers area and as soon as those final details about specific stops will lock in we'll keep you guys posted. >> two questions. the first one, after meeting with senator scott is the president's mind changed at all about that initial statement? should he have been more forceful and will he sign this bipartisan resolution condemning
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the violence in charlottesville as well as hate groups? >> the president was clear in his initial statement that he condemned hatred, bigotry, racism of all tormz. he continues to stick to that message. he's been very consistent in that fact. he and the senator talked about that and discussed that and agreed that that was the appropriate place to be. in terms of whether or not he'll sign the joint solution, absolutely and he looks forward to doing so as soon as he receives it which he hasn't done. >> his meeting with chuck schumer and nancy pelosi tonight, this is the kind of thing that conservatives who ran against him in the presidential race warned about that he would be cutting deals that would not uphold the ideals of conservative. why is he meeting with just the two of them? is he hoping to discuss a immigration deal? >> i think it's pretty disingenuous for people to say he's only meeting with democrats. the president is the leader of
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the republican party and was elected by republicans. he beat out 16 other candidates to take that mantle on and certainly i think one of the strongest voices and so the idea that the republican party ideas are not represented in that room is just ridiculous. >> jill? >> is immigration going to come up and would the president consider reaching some kind of deal similar to the three month extension working with democrats on the d.r.e.a.m.ers issue? >> i wouldn't be surprised if it came up tonight but i'm not going to get ahead of the conversations that will take place later this evening and as always we'll keep you guys posted on what those look like. >> i want to ask about the number two at fema withdrawing his nomination for consideration. did the white house know about that ig audit when the president decided to nominate? >> we won't get into the back and forth. our focus particularly at fema is on the safety and security of those that have been effected by the hurricane.
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we're not going to go down rabbit holes on personnel and our focus is on that right now. steve? >> this morning on cbs, senator manchin said the president was adamant that the tax reform would not be a tax cut for the rich. do you know on what basis the president was able to make that promise? is he pledging to hold the top tax rate at 39.6%? are we not going to see a wruks in that rate? how can we assure the americans that rich the won't get a tax cut? >> the president's priority is on the middle class, helping grow the middle class, helping create jobs, simplifying the system. he's laid out those principals and that's where his focus is and that's what he's going to push for. >> in january, the president gave an interview at the "the washington post" he said he wanted to see a program that would allow for insurance for everybody. and that would leverage medicare and medicaid's ability to control drug prices. bernie sanders seems to be offering a plan that would do that. why does the president not
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support it? >> i'm pretty sure that it's not only does the president not support it, but america doesn't support it or bernie sanders would be sitting in the oval office right now. he pushed these ideas forward during the campaign, they were rejected not just by america but democrats. he didn't make it through the primary. i think that's a pretty clear indication of what america wants to see and it's not a single payer system. >> i'll come back to you. >> thank you. >> go ahead. two quick questions on tax reform. there is some democrats who are confused if the president was serious about creating a bipartisan tax plan, they're thinking is that the president would also be meeting with ranking members or the minority members on weighs and means and on the finance committee in advance of the disclosure of the consensus outline that's going to come out at the end of september? can you describe the president's view about how to create a bipartisan tax plan? does he want to get ideas from
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democrats or does he just want democrats to buy in to the plan that brady and hatch will reveal? >> just by mere fact that he's been sitting down both yesterday and today with multiple members of the democrat party shows that he wants to have that conversation with them. i don't think you can make that any more clear than to have those ongoing conversations with multiple members of the democrat party. >> quick question on florida. how soon will the federal government be able to estimate any -- with any kind of precision, what kind of additional aid might be necessary to address the destruction in florida in terms of what congress may be presenting -- >> we're still in the recovery efforts right now and until we get further into the process it would be premature to put those estimates out there, particularly with precision. i would imagine that that takes us a good bit more time and once we have those numbers we'll let you know. >> thank you, sarah.
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i'd like to ask, the united states is spearheading a meeting at the u.n. on monday on u.n. reform. could you give me some specifics on what the united states hopes to accomplish in that meeting? >> we're -- i'm not going to get ahead of the meetings that will take place. i can tell you on friday general mcmaster and ambassador healy will be here at the briefing to talk in more detail about the u.n. general assembly events that will take place next week. >> thanks. two questions on two different subjects. just a follow-up to the president's meeting that he had with senator scott this morning. after the president's response to that white supremacist rally in charlottesville, senator scott said that's trump moral authority was compromised. in terms of the conversation that they had, does the president understand what trouble senator scott in regards to his response? >> they had a very open and honest conversation and committed to continuing those
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conversations and making sure that today was just the first step of many of those meetings where i think that will be an ongoing process and ongoing conversation that they have. >> then on tax reform with the meeting that's taking place this evening, with democratic leaders from congress, what is been the reaction that you've seen from the supporters that were on board the trump bandwagon from the start, the new tact that the president is taking in reaching out to democrats. >> this was something that the president talked about on the campaign trail of being a good deal maker and being able to sit down with members of both sides and be able to bring a deal and bring good legislation for the american people. this isn't new. and people listened and heard the president and certainly supported him and that's why he's here today. john? >> thank you, sarah. two different questions. first, your earlier remarks about the nature of repeal and replace legislation would seem
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to rule out the white house support for a flatout repeal which is favored by many republican house members. are you ruling out or discouraging a flatout repeal measure first? >> we haven't ruled out anything that helps move this process forward. we're grateful for the efforts that are continuing in congress and we hope that they do what they campaigned on and what they promised the american people would do. it's not just repeal, but it's also replace. both of those parts are very important moving afford. >> the president recently appointed 42 u.s. attorneys and it's been reported fairly widely that only one of them was a woman, u.s. attorney for the district of columbia, former democratic appointed u.s. attorney in alabama called this and i quote, a slap in the face, unquote. what is the reaction of the white house to that comment on
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this waive of appointments? >> i think the president has certainly surrounded himself with a lot of strong women in various positions including myself in a pretty high position and senior position in the administration as well as kellyanne conway, a number of others. he's continuing to add women to his staff at senior levels every single day and i think that's a very positive step forward considering particularly in the communications first time in history that's happen. >> thanks sarah. it was reported today that mike flynn jr. is the subject of a federal investigation into election meddling. is the president concerned that someone who served on his transition team is now the subject of a federal investigation. >> i haven't had a conversation about them but i'd refer you to outside counsel. >> hillary clinton made this morning that president trump was the president for all americans. you have any reaction to this characterization of the president's role in the white house?
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>> i think that type of misunderstanding of who this president is and frankly, a misunderstanding of what he's been doing is exactly one of the reasons that hillary clinton is not the president and is instead pushing a book with a lot of false narratives and a lot of i think false accusations and lacing blame on a lot of other people instead of accepting it herself. >> thank you, sarah. a little over a week ago the canada, u.s. mexico second round of negotiations on nafta. next round in ten days in ottawa. has the president been briefed on the second round? is he happy with the result if he was briefed? and is he still considering canceling the entire agreement? >> those negotiations are still ongoing and a final decision hasn't been made and they'll continue to push forward to make sure that the best deal possible for american and american workers happens. >> two questions.
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when was the last time the president spoke with mike flynn. >> i'm not sure. i'm not aware of any conversation that's taken place in quite a long time. >> i also want to ask fwont's dinner, why not also invite mitch mcconnell and paul ryan. >> you've got the leader of the republican party sitting at the table. this is the president's opportunity to have a very open and honest conversation with members of the senate and i think anybody that tries to distort it into something other than that is just misunderstanding what the purpose is. >> i don't want to get it wrong either. are you saying if mitch mcconnell and paul ryan were there it would be distorted? >> i'm not saying that at all. if anybody thinks that the republican viewpoint isn't being represented is completely misunderstanding that the president is the leader of the republican party. >> so is the president negotiating on behalf of the republican leadership on the hill in this meeting? >> the president's negotiating on behalf of the american people
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exactly what he was elected to do and the idea that you guys keep trying to distort this into a bad thing is i think exactly why this president was elected. they were sick and tired of business as usual. they wanted somebody who would break up the status quo that would bring people from both sides of the table together to have conversations. this president's done more for bipartisanship in the last eight days than obama did in eight years. april? >> what are the topics on the table with the president beyond charlottesville with tim scott? >> they talked about tax reform, they talked about moving to -- looking at different ways to bring the country together and about continuing ongoing conversations, making sure that they stayed in constant contact with one another and having a pretty open and regular conversation. >> were there conversations about hcbus. >> they were not discuss in the
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meeting today. >> and sources saying there was a conversation about a request from black republicans to have a high ranking black republican within this administration who knows issues and understands how to -- how washington up and down pennsylvania avenue works? was that a conversation in this meeting? >> there's certainly a conversations about adding additional personnel that can tap into the african-american community that did come up, yes. >> so where did that go? what did the president say -- >> a commitment to absolutely work with senator scott to look -- to do exactly that and for the two of them to continue to have those conversations for his viewpoints to continue to be expressed directly to the president. >> did they speak of certain issues or certain people as it related to that topic about bringing new -- >> specific people didn't come up. blake? >> let me bring you back to taxes. the president campaigned on corporate tax rate of 15%, steve mnuchin yesterday said i don't know if we'll be able to achieve
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that given the budget issues. you were asked about mr. mnuchin's comments. the president is prepared to push for as low rate as we can get. the president was adamant about a 15% rate. so the official position from the administration that a 15% rate needs to happen or that all of this is subject to negotiation. >> 15% has been the goal, it's always been the goal. we'll continue pushing for that. that certainly hasn't changed. >> and secondly, with working with or at least talking tonight with pelosi and schumer, one of the things they want is not one penny of their campaign to the wealthiest americans, that is a marker that they have drawn in the sand. at this point is the president open to not having tax cuts as deep as one maybe thought for the wealthiest of americans snnchs the president's focus has never been on the wealthiest of americans, it's been on tax cuts and tax reform as a whole. that continues to be his
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priority. >> thank you, sarah. two questions if i may. since you raise the issue of mrs. clinton's book having a false narrative and false z-akss, could you point us to a couple of accusations in the book that you believe are factually incorrect. >> probably the biggest one is any place within the book where she lays blame for the loss on any one but herself. >> separate topic. the president issued a strong statement the other day on myanmar and the persecution of the minority muslim population. i know that topic came up in his meeting yesterday. i'm wondering whether the president feels that aung sung in that part of her country. >> i think any time, any one sees something like that taking place public condemnation is certainly appropriate. we'll continue working with our allies and partners to be part
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of the process in whatever way we can moving forward. >> you mentioned a couple times today diversity in the west wing. you talked about the president being very clear after charlottesville and denouncing. i want to read a comment from influential from espn yesterday. donald trump's is a white supremacist whose largely surround himself with other white supremacists rise is direct result of white supremacy. why do you think -- do you have a reaction to that and is the president aware of that comment? >> i'm not sure he's aware but that's one of the more outrageous comment but it's a fireable offense by espn. >> why do you think the influential african-american figures are saying things like that? >> i'm not going to speak for that individual. i know that the president has met again with people like senator scott who are highly respected leaders in the african-american community. he's committed to working with him to bring the country
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together. i think that's where we need to be focused, not on outrageous statements like that one. >> thank you. you said the president has done more for bipartisanship in the last eight days than president obama did in eight years. are you basing that off of meetings that he's held with democrats here at the white house? >> i'm basing that on the fact that he's actually willing to sit down with members of the opposite party, something that president obama rarely did and certainly didn't listen to members of the opposite party. i can't think of a single time where he made a deal with anybody from the opposite side of the -- from anybody beyond the democrat party and the, again, this president is committed to doing that. he hasn't just done it once but he's continuing to do that as we move into one of the most ambitious legislative agendas we've had in a long time and we're committed to working with democrats. he's stated that both publicly. >> you're saying -- thank you. >> does the president believe it was a mistake not to invest more
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time and energy in the schumer-pelosi relationship at an earlier stage in his term? >> i don't think so. we're at a critical time where we have some big things on the agenda, tax reform, responsible immigration reform. he's committed to working again with the republicans and democrats to push those through and hopes that they'll come on board to do that. thanks so much, guys. the president will be having an event here just momentarily. thank you. >> announcer: some of the worst damage from hurricane irma happened on caribbean islands including the u.s. virgin islands. the center for strategic and international studies host a panel discussion with foreign diap low mats and state department officials on response time. this i